SPECULATION continues to grow that Pope Benedict could soon announce the first papal visit to Ireland in 30 years.Last year the Irish bishops issued a formal invitation for the Pope to visit Ireland. If accepted, it would be the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979.Last weekend the Holy Father's official spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope's schedule for 2009 would be made public in the near future."The agenda of the Pope for the next year is not decided," he said. "He has received many invitations, he takes all invitations with the greatest attention and also with great desire to answer yes. "I hope that ... before the end of the year we will have an idea of the agenda of the international journeys of the Pope."When asked about a possible papal visit coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul's visit, Fr Lombardi said, "Naturally there are always occasions, anniversaries that are a good possibility, a good occasion for a trip, but I think that the Pope desires always to visit the Catholics in the different parts of the world."Speculation of a Papal visit first emerged last year after the appointment of northerner Sean Brady as Irish cardinal.Leading church figures claimed that appointment may be a signal that the Holy Father may be preparing for the first papal visit to Northern Ireland.A planned visit by Pope John Paul II in 1979 had to be called off because of concerns over his safety.